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Preventable Tragedy and Comparative Negligence in California

Posted on Tuesday, August 26th, 2014    

Four passengers died at the scene of a truck accident on State Route 36 east of Hydesville, according to recent reports. The truck was carrying eight people when it swerved off the road and hit a tree. Several of the passengers were in the bed of the truck at the time of the collision. All four survivors were taken to the hospital for treatment.

Police continue to investigate the accident and have not ruled out DUI as a possible contributing factor. Only the driver was apparently wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

This is the deadliest traffic accident Humboldt County has seen in twelve years. The youngest of the victims was 13 years old and the eldest was 40. All of them died from blunt force trauma.

Identification was reportedly very difficult since none of them had identification on them since they had just gone swimming. One officer said that it was “one of the worst notifications the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office has ever done.”

One of the victims was the mother of two of the survivors.

Preventing Tragedies Takes Everyone’s Involvement

The question in everyone’s mind now is “how could this accident have been prevented?” As the investigation continues into whether this was a DUI or not, the issues become more complicated.

If the driver was under the influence of alcohol, it is very possible that he or she could be held liable for the deaths and injuries of the passengers. However, the passengers may also be considered to be somewhat at fault for their failure to wear seat belts and for riding in the back of an open truck.

In California, juries are allowed to consider cases in which the victims are partially at fault for their own injuries. The theory behind this is known as “comparative negligence.” If a victim is considered to be 20 percent at fault for his or her own injuries, for example, any award may be reduced by that amount as part of a comparative negligence decision. In other words, if the victim would have been entitled to $100,000, the victim would actually receive $80,000.

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, contact the Amerio Law Firm in Sacramento. You may be entitled to damages including payment of your medical bills, pain and suffering and other expenses. Amerio lawyers can help you determine the best way to pursue your claim.

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