No matter who's behind the wheel, some car accidents are nearly impossible to avoid. A sudden obstruction in the road or the actions of a reckless driver can create a hazard that leaves us no time to react, resulting in a serious crash.
An accident in November in Millbrae, California, involved two crashes, one of which could have been avoided. A Cadillac carrying four young men was traveling south on Highway 101 when the driver saw a tire in the road. He swerved to avoid it, but lost control and crashed into the center divider, coming to rest in the middle lane.
Just then a Nissan crashed into the Cadillac, "shoving it down the road," according to the district attorney handling the resulting legal case. One of the Cadillac's passengers, a popular 19-year-old Gilroy community college athlete, was killed in the second crash. Three others in the car were also hurt, as was the driver of the Nissan.
The Nissan driver was found to have a blood alcohol level of .12 percent, above the legal driving limit, according to the district attorney. The driver has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence. He surrendered to police this week but has yet to enter a plea in the case.
The tire that caused the car to crash initially may have been unavoidable. The men were driving late at night and the obstruction may not have been visible until the car's headlights shone on it. The second crash, however, was the one that killed the young passenger. If the driver who hit the car was intoxicated, his reaction time might have been slower, decreasing his ability to avoid the crashed car.
The family of the crash victim may decide to file a wrongful-death lawsuit, particularly if the driver is convicted of the charges against him. The two cases are separate, but the criminal case could have an effect on the outcome of a civil lawsuit.
Source: The San Francisco Chronicle, "Man charged in crash that killed college student," March 28, 2012
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