A tragic car accident in Fresno, California left 5 dead yesterday after a woman allegedly ran a stop sign and collided with another vehicle. The victims were four children ages 1 to 11 and their 29 year old mother. To make matters worse, the father of the children was driving in a separate car about a fourth of a mile behind the SUV which caught fire after being struck by the other car. The father watched as the car burst into flames and tried to rescue his family, but what only successful in burning himself as he tried in vain.
The driver of the other vehicle which was described as a minivan was taken to a local hospital where she was being treated for what authorities described as major injuries. Family of the decedents told reporters that the victims were on their way to a local restaurant to celebrate the birthday of the youngest boy. The family was going to pick up another child on the way and that is why they were in two different cars.
My sympathies go out to the family and friends of the victims of this tragic accident. The only thing worse than losing one’s family must be when one has to stand by and watch such a tragedy with one’s own eyes.
This is a classic example of negligent infliction of emotional distress under a theory that has become known as “Dillon versus Legg”. It was so named after a California Supreme Court case which was litigated regarding a traffic collision with a similar result. In the
Dillon case, which dates back to 1968, a mother and her daughter watched as another daughter was killed in a car crash. Initially the lower court stated that the mother and daughter could not recover damages from the accident because they had not been actually harmed by the negligent actions of the defendant. On appeal the State Supreme Court said the family could recover damages and this case began the then new cause of action which is now known as negligent infliction of emotional distress.
The California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision and there was some indication that the driver of the minivan may have been under the influence of prescription medication at the time of the accident. Witnesses said that speed did not appear to the part of the cause and that alcohol was not involved.
If you or some close to you has been injured in an accident or if you witnesses someone close to you get injured in an accident, you may be entitled to recover money for your loss.
Call us at the Valley Attorney Group: (888) 764-4340 or (818) 783-5700 or
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