An Anaheim family is mourning the loss of a husband and father after a fatal accident outside of their home claimed his life. Tarek Hamed was turning into his driveway after work at around 3:00 AM when another car lost control and crashed into him. The driver of the other car, Jorge Esteban Lunas Martinez, was said to have been speeding and under the influence of alcohol. Police are also investigating whether Martinez was involved in a high-speed street race immediately before the crash. Family friends noted that victim’s wife and daughter were visibly shaken after the crash. The daughter “was not crying, not making a reaction” and “doesn’t want to eat, play.” Following their tragic loss, Hamed’s family may be able to recover compensation from Martinez by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
After the fatal crash, Martinez was arrested for gross vehicular manslaughter, felony DUI, and driving without a license. While he awaits his fate in criminal court, the Hamed family can pursue a wrongful death claim in civil court. The outcome of his criminal proceedings should have little to no influence on a wrongful death lawsuit.
From the details provided in the article, it would appear as if the Hamed family could make a strong argument that Martinez was negligent. If Martinez was, in fact, speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol the Hamed family can probably ask that he is held to be negligent per se. A person is negligent per se when they violate a law or regulation and cause an injury that the (broken) law was designed to prevent. The regulations requiring that drivers operate vehicles at a safe speed and refrain from driving while intoxicated were probably designed to prevent injuries like Tarek Hamed’s death. If it is established that Martinez violated the law the Hamed family will have an easier time recovering the compensation they deserve.
Once it is established that Martinez was negligent per se the Hamed family will have to explain what kind of damages they are seeking to recover and how much in damages they are demanding. The type of damages that may be available in California wrongful death cases are divided into two categories. The specific injuries and harms you suffer as the result of an accident will dictate which damages you can recover.
Economic damages are awarded in California wrongful death lawsuits to compensate family members for specific financial expenses and losses. These losses should be easy to calculate and assign a dollar amount. Examples of economic damages in California wrongful death cases include funeral expenses, cost of burial or cremation, medical expenses incurred after the accident and before the victim’s death, and ambulance fees. Families of a fatal accident victim may also request economic damages to cover the victim’s lost present and future wages. Hamed was said to have been “always working” from early in the morning until late into the night to support his family and “sick mother in Egypt.” The Hamed family could argue that they relied on Mr. Hamed’s wages to survive and request economic damages to compensate them for the sudden loss of income.
Non-economic damages are awarded in California wrongful death lawsuits to compensate family members for harms and injuries that are difficult to assign a dollar value. These injuries are very personal and the degree of harm is subjective. We all know what pain and suffering is, but we would probably all have varying opinions when we tried to say how much someone’s pain and suffering after the loss of a loved one is worth. Other non-economic damages that may be awarded in California wrongful death lawsuits can include loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and mental anguish. Hamed’s daughter was described as being so distraught to the point at which she did not want to eat, play, or even react to her father’s death. The Hamed family can ask for non-economic damages to try to compensate for his girl’s tragic loss of her father. Valuing that harm in terms of money can be difficult. If pre-trial settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, a judge or jury will be required to make a judgment call.
The Hamed family is probably experiencing a lot of different emotions in the wake of their loss. Anger is probably one of those emotions. They may want to file a lawsuit for the single purpose of making Martinez pay for the grief he has caused them. The family probably can make him pay for their grief by requesting non-economic damages for pain and suffering. The family probably cannot, however, make him pay by requesting punitive damages. In California, punitive damages are generally not available in wrongful death lawsuits.
If you have lost a loved one in a California accident you should not hesitate to contact an attorney. You may be entitled to recover compensation for the injuries – both financial and emotional – that you and your family have suffered. Contact our Anaheim accident attorneys today for a free consultation and to learn about how we may be able to help you file a wrongful death lawsuit.