Most fatal car accidents happen at night, while drivers are intoxicated, or during bad weather. When these tragic accidents happen during the middle of the afternoon in broad daylight, families of car accident victims may have a difficult time understanding why their loved ones were unexpectedly taken from them. The family members of a man and two women who were recently killed in a Lancaster car accident are likely grappling with these issues. The crash, which also injured four other people, involved a small sedan and a large SUV. The vehicles crashed around noon near the Challenger Way intersection. Drugs and alcohol were not believed to have been a factor in the crash, and police are still trying to determine the underlying cause(s) of the accident.
Which Victim(s) Are Entitled to Damages?
Determining the cause(s) of the crash is incredibly important. This is because the person (or people) responsible for causing the fatal and injury-causing accident will be financially responsible for the harms that others suffered because of the crash.
Parties Directly Involved in the Crash
If the driver of the SUV is responsible for the crash, the family members of the victims who were killed in the sedan may have a solid wrongful death claim. If the now-deceased driver of the sedan was responsible for the crash, the injured SUV victims may be entitled to recover compensation from the victim’s estate. If both drivers were partly responsible, both parties may be liable for any damages.
Car & SUV Manufacturers
If either of the vehicles involved in the crash were defective, the companies responsible for the design, manufacture, and/or sale of those cars may be on the hook for damages. This is because California’s product liability laws hold companies who put products on the market strictly liable for any injuries that are caused by defects in those products. If the accident investigation finds that the SUV had defective brakes or the sedan had defective airbags, the victims and/or their families can file a lawsuit against the company responsible for that defect.
In order to successfully recover compensation from a company for a defective product, the victims and/or their family will have to prove:
- The company designed, manufactured, and/or sold the product;
- The product contained a defect;
- The product was used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable way; and
- The defect was a substantial factor in the victim’s harm.
Sometimes the drivers who are involved in an accident are not at fault (or not entirely at fault). In some cases, the government entity responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the roads can be responsible for terrible actions. If the government entity responsible for maintaining Avenue J-8 and 10th Street East (the roads creating Challengers Way) was negligent, the victims and/or their families can seek to recover compensation from that government entity directly.
In order to successfully recover damages from a negligent government entity, the victims and/or their family must prove:
- The government owns/controls the property in question;
- The property had a dangerous condition at the time of the crash;
- The government knew or should have known about the defect;
- The government failed to fix the dangerous condition in a reasonable time; and
- The dangerous condition was a substantial factor in causing the victim’s injury and/or death.
Third Party Contributors
Just because two vehicles crashed does not necessarily mean that these two drivers were the only ones involved in the accident. Another driver on the road, a motorcyclist, a cyclist, and/or a pedestrian could have created a situation that ultimately led to the fatal crash. For example, a pedestrian could have jumped out into traffic in front of the SUV, causing the vehicle to swerve into the sedan’s lane. In this scenario, the pedestrian would likely be (at least partially) at-fault for the crash. The victim and/or their families could pursue compensation from the pedestrian because of their negligence.
In order to successfully recover damages from a negligent third party, the victims and/or their family must prove:
- The third party owed a duty of care to the victim;
- The third party breached this duty; and
- This breach of duty caused the victim’s injury.
Statute of Limitations in Car Accident Cases
An invisible clock known as the statute of limitations begins to run the moment an accident happens. Victims who are injured in the accident must file a personal injury claim for damages before the clock expires. In most situations, car accident victims will have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. A victim who does not file a claim within this timeframe will likely miss out on the opportunity to get the money they need.
However, if the government is to blame, victims have an even shorter window of opportunity to file a claim. Victims who believe that the government is responsible for their injuries must file a special administrative claim with the government itself within six months of an accident. The government will review the claim, and either approve or deny the request for compensation. If the claim is denied, which is usually the case, the victim will have an additional six months to file a traditional civil claim.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim After a Lancaster Car Accident
If you’ve been injured in a Lancaster car accident you may be entitled to compensation for the harms you have suffered. The money you recover in a lawsuit can help to pay for costly medical bills, make up for lost wages, and compensate for the emotional distress you’ve endured. Call the Lancaster personal injury lawyers at Glotzer & Leib, LLP for more information about the benefits of filing a personal injury claim for damages. You have a limited amount of time to act, so do not hesitate to call us today. We will review your case, outline your rights as an accident victim, and explain the steps involved in filing a claim.